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Full text of "A history of Persia"

EXPULSION OF THE AFGHANS       327
his Intrepidity in braving the greatest Dangers, and cry'd
him up as a Man capable of the boldest Enterprizes, and
whose Boldness was generally successful."1
Few conquests have been more extraordinary than
that of Mahmud. Previous conquerors of Iran, such as
Chengiz and Tamerlane, had created a powerful force
before attempting the task; but Mahmud captured
Isfahan, and subsequently most of central and southern
Persia, with twenty thousand Afghans and without much
backing from Kandahar. The cowardice, effeminacy, and
corruption of Persia as represented by the Safavi dynasty
was the true cause of its downfall; for, as Malcolm says,
the Persian Empire resembled " a vast fabric tottering to
its fell."
Of Mahmud himself, with the exception of the first
few months of just rule after the capitulation of Isfahan,
little good can be said. He was treacherous, narrow-
minded, lacking in generosity and indeed in almost all the
qualities which stamp a great conqueror; on the other
hand, he was brave and energetic. Like Afghans in
general, he was entirely deficient in administrative
qualities and his mind was quite uncultivated. Finally,•
the massacres for which he was responsible have consigned
his memory to wholly justifiable execration.
The Turkish Invasion of Georgia, A.D. 1722-1723.—After
the death of Murad IV., the relations between Persia and
Turkey were friendly for nearly a century.    But when
the Afghans invaded Iran, the Sunni power determined
to take advantage of the impotence of the Shia state.    An
excellent opening was found in the province of Shirwan,
whose Sunni population had been cruelly persecuted by
the orders of the fanatical Husayn.    The Sultan decided
to appoint a governor to the province, and the officer
charged with the task of conveying the Imperial^ orders
had been despatched when information was received of
the expedition of Peter the Great.    After some negotia-
tions between Turkey and Russia, conducted in Constanti-
nople, the Turks decided to declare war against Persia,
and three fulwas, or proclamations, were issued by the
1 ii. p. 159.